It’s easy to see why young people gravitate towards Leiron Flournoy. With eight children of his own, Flournoy says that working with youth just comes naturally.
“Working with kids is my everyday life,” said Flournoy, who has worked as an after-school counselor for the Department of Youth Services at New Community since 2012. (He noted that he comes from a large family himself.)
Director Edward Morris said that Flournoy’s good rapport with the children and staff in the program has helped him succeed in his role. Each day, for three hours after school lets out, Flournoy works with students to help them complete their homework and provide activities in a safe and structured environment.
“He’s not only an excellent after-school counselor, he’s a good role model and mentor as well,” Morris said. “The children really connect with him.”
When school lets out at 3:20 p.m. at New Horizons Charter School, students cross Hayes Street and fill the gymnasium of the New Community Neighborhood Center, which is located in the middle of NCC’s family housing units. Just like the students, Flournoy, who also works at New Horizons as a teaching assistant in a classroom of fifth and sixth graders, transitions from one educational setting to another.
A computer science major in college, Flournoy said he considers math to be his strong suit and works with 16 students ranging from fourth to sixth grade during the after-school program. After the students complete their school work, he organizes games such as kickball to keep them actively engaged. The challenge, he said, is keeping students focused during homework time so that they can participate in free time.
A longtime Newark resident, Flournoy’s history with youth work runs deep. Starting as a college freshman, Flournoy spent his summers helping out at a local summer camp. That eventually led to his current job at New Horizons, where he has been working for eight years. Flournoy started off in the first grade classroom and said he enjoys working with all grade levels.
“I like the challenge,” he said.
For Flournoy, the most gratifying part of his job is when former students pay a visit. He said he cherishes the moments when students talk about trying out for a sports team or pursuing new interests. That’s proof of their growth and personal development, according to Flournoy.
“A lot of them come back to see us,” he said.